Where is God when you need Him? Why isn’t God answering your prayers? And why is it the answers He has given, seem not to be the answer you wanted or needed?
Have you ever needed God’s guidance or His provision, and prayed for it, and sought after it, and waited for it, but there was no answer? The Bible says that God knows what we need before we ask—and God certainly knows when we need it. But what if my deadline has passed, and my answer has still not arrived, and my need has not been met?
Sometimes I feel as if God knows I have a need—knows that I have a deadline—and yet purposefully waits. There have even been times when I felt as if God relished watching me dangle at the end of my rope.
In Scripture, God’s timing is always perfect—although sometimes rather dramatic. It was only when Israel was trapped between the Red Sea and the crush of Pharaoh’s army, that God came through. God didn’t deliver Daniel from the Lions’ den, or Shadrach, Meschech, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. He chose not to deliver them from their trials, but in their trials.
Even now, someone is reading this article in the perfect timing of God. The Bible teaches the very clear truth that God wants to bless, but sometimes God waits to bless.
Why does God wait? Consider two different versions of Isaiah 30:18.
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. Isaiah 30:18 (KJV)
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. Isaiah 30:18 (NASB)
God’s timing is always perfect. What we truly need, God will provide at the time He sees fit for us to receive it. God’s gifts are not ours to command. We can request His blessing—but it is His decision if, and when we will receive it. What are some possible reasons for the waiting of God.
- The Waiting of God May Reflect a Period of Spiritual Discipline Imposed on Your Life.
Although the Lord has given you the bread of privation and water of oppression… Isaiah 30:20
Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink… Is. 30:20a NLT
Some blessings God withholds because our hearts are not right with Him. Anytime we take a problem or need to God, and feel as if He is silent, God’s delay ought to cause us to examine our lives to see if the delay is due to sin.
Can your pastor answer that question? Can He tell you if God’s delay is due to sin? No! Only God is qualified to answer that question. But it is a question God won’t answer until you ask. It could be the very need we find ourselves asking God to meet has been imposed upon our lives as an act of God’s discipline.
Once we respond to God’s discipline and turn from sin, then God can respond to our prayer. God will meet that need—but not until we respond according to His expectation.
Consider the interplay between repentance and blessing that appears in the context of this passage.
22 And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!” 23 Then He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous; on that day your livestock will graze in a roomy pasture. Isaiah 30:22-24
The blessings of God rain down upon us when we turn from our sins and return to Him. Only then can God bless. So, these verses tell us that while God wants to bless, He waits to bless. When God waits, the delay could be on your side, not on God’s side. God is waiting for you to humble yourself before Him in true repentance.
- The Waiting of God is Often a Call to Earnest Prayer—a Call to a Deeper Fellowship with Him.
O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. Isaiah 30:19
Beth Moore, in her study, A Heart Like His, relates the story of Jesus taking Peter, James and John with Him into the garden to pray. He took them further than the others. They were exposed to the great outpouring of His heart in prayer. They watched Him weeping and groaning before the Lord. But even our Lord—as He prayed—went to a place in prayer that even His closest disciples could not follow. He went further still into the garden—alone—to be with His Father. Beth Moore calls those deep, intimate moments with the Father, “the place of further still.”
There are times when God waits to take us deeper into His fellowship. He waits so that He might bring us to a place of earnest prayer and deep desire so that there, in the place of further still, He can show us the secrets of His heart and meet our needs.
Is God waiting as you pray? Pursue Him! Go further and further! Allow Him to take you to place that friends and family can’t go and can’t fathom. Cling to Him! Wait with Him, as He waits to answer you. There is something He wants to show you that you can only see as He waits and you wait!
Sickness invaded the home of a family in the little village of Bethany. Sickness and death were not unknown to them. In those days, without physicians and medicines, death came suddenly and often. This little family knew and loved the Lord Jesus. In fact, it seems they were three of the closest friends that He had outside the circle of His own disciples.
The Bible explicitly says of these that Jesus loved them. When Lazarus got sick, and it became apparent that it was serious—the sisters sent for Jesus. They knew Him well! They knew He could meet their need. They were confident in His power and in His concern.
When Jesus received the news—He failed to respond. He waited. Lazarus died. Jesus never even called on His friends until four days later. He didn’t even come to the funeral. Why did He wait? And why did he wait until their deadline had passed and it was too late from all human perspectives?
The purpose of our Lord’s waiting was not to destroy this family’s faith. His purpose was to strengthen their faith. When He arrived—to their utter amazement—He raised Lazarus from the dead.
You may be the person who has an approaching deadline. You prayed. And God still waits! You set your life in order. And God still waits! Your deadline has passed. And God still waits! He may be waiting to call you deeper into His fellowship and to show you an aspect of His character or some glimpse of His glory You will never see without His waiting.
Jesus said to Martha—did I not say to you if you believe you will see the glory of God? What is God waiting to show you?
- The Waiting of the Lord Brings You to the Place of His Perfect Guidance.
20 Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:20-21 (NASB)
20Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. 21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:20-21 ( NLT)
God’s timing is perfect. God’s wisdom is perfect. He knows where you are, and what you need, and when you need it. But to give you the guidance you need, He must bring you to the place of His presence. That place may be a place of despair. It may be the end of your rope. It may be—as it was for Moses—the backside of the wilderness. But it will be the place of further still—a place where God waits for you… and you wait for Him with such a longing—such a yearning that you cast away all that hindered you, so that you might enjoy His fellowship and receive His guidance.
How long have you been waiting in desperation? All that time—God has been waiting—perhaps waiting to this very moment so He could reveal His heart to you and show you the path of His perfect guidance.
So what are you to do while God keeps waiting? Wait! How blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18c
- The Waiting of the Lord Reflects the Eager Desire of His Heart to Meet the Deepest Needs in the Lives of His Children.
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you… Isaiah 30:18a
These verses picture a God who stoops, eager to hear—eager to answer—eager to meet the needs that exist in the lives of His children. This passage of Scripture reflects the heart of a God who is so concerned about the needs in the lives of His people that it is the passionate longing of His heart to bless them. He is just waiting for you to cry so that he can come to your aid.
If there is a delay in His answer—that delay is for your good. It may reflect a need in your own life deeper than you know—a need to repent of some sin. It may reflect God’s own desire for you to come further still into His presence. It may reflect His desire to give you His perfect guidance which can only come when you come to the backside of you own wilderness—and find, as did Moses, a divine appointment waiting with your God and friend.
What do you do when you experience a divine delay in your life? When the Lord waits— wait for Him!
Photo by Warren Wong